Northern_Ireland_files/Reactions and Resignations to Burntollet

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Reactions and
Resignations to
Burntollet
1.
2.
Mr B Deane
Learning Intentions:
To gather an understanding of why O’Neill’s
own party members went against him.
To be aware of the significance of the ‘crossroad’ elections and how O’Neill was forced
out of office.
More Marches

NICRA responded
to the events in the
North-West by
organising more
marches. The first
march was held in
Newry and again
this resulted in
violence.
O’Neill’s Response

O’Neill established the
Cameron Commission to
investigate the increasing
violence. This led to two
cabinet members including,
Brian Faulkner to resign.
Faulkner argued that O’Neill
was not strong enough to
keep control of the situation.
Worryingly for O’Neill many
of his colleagues were of the
same opinion of Faulkner
and 12 MPs called for his
resignation on January 1969.
What next for O’Neill?

O’Neill decided to call an election instead of stepping
down. He termed these the ‘crossroads election’. He
thought that these elections would prove that the public
of Northern Ireland were behind his efforts to
modernise Northern Ireland.

The election took place on 24 February 1969.
Unfortunately the result was not what O’Neill had
wanted.
The Results



There was a reduction in Unionist Support and
divisions of loyalty among the Unionist MPs
elected.
There was also little or no evidence of the
hoped support from the Catholic voters.
O’Neill, who had never before had to face a
challenger in his own Bannside constituency,
only polled 1400 votes more than his opponent,
Ian Paisley.
Northern Ireland General Election 1969
Party
Candidates
Seats
Gains
Losse
s
Ulster Unionist
44
36
4
4
Independent Unionist
18
3
3
Labour (NI)
16
2
Nationalist (NI)
9
National Democrats
Net
Gain/
Loss
Seats
%
Votes %
Votes
+/-
0
69.2
48.2
269,501
-10.9
0
+3
5.8
15.6
86,052
+15.6
1
1
0
3.8
8.1
45,113
-12.3
6
0
3
-3
11.5
7.6
42,315
-0.6
7
0
0
1
-1
4.6
26,009
-0.1
People's Democracy
8
0
0
0
0
4.2
23,645
+4.2
Independent
4
3
3
1
+2
3.9
21,977
+3.9
Protestant Unionist
5
0
0
0
0
3.8
20,991
+3.8
Republican Labour
5
2
1
1
0
2.4
13,115
+1.4
Liberal
2
0
0
1
-1
1.3
7,337
-2.6
People’s Progressive
1
0
0
0
0
0.5
2,992
+0.5
5.8
3.8
What next for O’Neill

O’Neill struggled for the next two months, but
his party was now hopelessly divided and with a
further deterioration in the political situation
caused by increasing violence and confrontation,
he resigned on 28 April 1969. As luck would
have it, the final nail on his coffin was a series of
bombings, which at the time appeared to the
work of the IRA but which were actually carried
out by Loyalits in an attempt to force O’Neill
out of office.
As O’Neill later revealed in his
autobiography. The bombs had:
‘Quite literally blew
me out of office.’
‘I have tried to break the
chains of ancient hatreds.
I have been unable to
realise during my period of
office all that I had sought
to achieve.’
A New Leader

In the resulting leadership election
O’Neill was succeeded by his
cousin, Major James Chichester
Clark. Chichester Clark had
resigned from the government less
than a week earlier in protest at
O’Neill’s decision to introduce oneman-one-vote in time for the next
elections. Then Chichester Clark
had argued that the timing of the
measure was wrong; now he
declared he would continue with
O’Neill’s reform campaign.

What do you think the reaction of
the Nationalist people would have
been initially to the resignation of
O’Neill?

How do you think they would have
reacted with the news that his
successor would be Chichester
Clark?
Activities
1.
Who won the 1969 General Election in Northern Ireland?
2.
Who replaced O’Neill as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland?
3.
Construct a timeline showing the main times and issues of division from 1963-69.
4.
You are divided into groups. Group one must defend O’Neill and claim that his
premiership was a success. On the other hand, group two are claiming that his
premiership was a failure. Be aware of the differing political groups that would be
involved on each side. Remember Unionists and Nationalists can agree that his reign
was a failure but for very different reasons.
5.
O’Neill admitted his failure in various interviews. Using all that you have learnt about
O’Neill so far, explain whether you believe his premiership was a success or a failure.
Provide reasons for your answer. (At least a page answer!)
Timeline

1963- Lord Brookeborough resigns- Replaced by Terence O’Neill, despite the lack of support from within his
own party.

1964 -Campaign for Social Justice (CSJ) formed. The CSJ was the forerunner of the civil rights movement and
it began a programme of publicising what it saw as widespread discrimination, in a number of areas of life,
against Catholics in Northern Ireland.

14 January 1965- The hand of friendship- Lemass and O’Neill meet face-to-face.

Success for the O’Neill and the OUP in the 1965 general elections.

September 1966- A plot by backbenchers of the OUP try to oust O’Neill as leader

1967 Jack Lynch visits Northern Ireland

1 February 1967 -The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) was formed. The Civil Rights
Movement called for a number of reforms one of which was for 'one man, one vote', that is, a universal
franchise for local government elections. At the time only rate-payers were entitled to votes, and there were
other anomalies to do with additional votes for companies. The association also campaigned for the end to
gerrymandering of electoral boundaries. Other reforms pressed for included: the end to perceived
discrimination in the allocation of public sector housing and appointments to, particularly, public sector
employment; the repeal of the Special Powers Act; and the disbandment of the 'B-Specials' (Ulster Special
Constabulary) which was a paramilitary style reserve police force which was entirely Protestant in its makeup.

First March took place on 24 August 1968- Tyron towns of Coalisland and Dungannon

5 October 1968 march in Derry banned by the government but NICRA continued. Police use
heavy handed tactics to break up the rally. Events caught on camera by RTE.

October 1968- The establishment of the People’s Democracy.

9 November O’Neill appears on camera to appeal for calm.

22 November announcement of the five point programme.

1 to 4 January march from Belfast to Derry. Resulting in the ambush at Burntollet on 4 January.

January 1969 12 MPs call for the resignation of O’Neill

Results in O’Neill calling for elections on 30 January 1969

24 February 1969 elections take place. O’Neill barely wins his constituency.

28 April 1969 O’Neill forced to resign after a series of bombings by Loyalist parlimilitaries (Many
thought it was the IRA)

May 1 1969 Chichester Clark appointed the new premier
Learn the important dates

You will be tested on the important dates
between 1963-69.

Reflection: Have we met our targets?
To gather an understanding of why O’Neill’s
own party members went against him.
To be aware of the significance of the ‘crossroad’ elections and how O’Neill was forced
out of office.
1.
2.
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